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Sunday, September 6, 2015

Refugee crisis tops concerns in Canadian election campaign

   Canada column for Sunday, Sept. 6/15

   (c) By Jim Fox

   The image of a drowned three-year-old boy on a Turkish beach derailed the Canadian election campaign as attempts failed to bring his Syrian refugee family to Canada.
   The boy was the nephew of Tima Kurdi of Port Coquitlam, British Columbia who was trying to sponsor the family.
   Alan Kurdi, drowned along with his five-year-old brother and mother in an unsuccessful attempt to reach Europe on a smuggler’s boat, while the father, Abdullah, survived.
   Tima wanted to bring another brother, Mohammed, to Canada first and then Abdullah and his family.
   The government said it did not receive a refugee application for Abdullah but did get an incomplete one for Mohammed that didn’t meet the requirements for proof of refugee status.
   Member of Parliament Fin Donnelly said he delivered a letter in March to Immigration Minister Chris Alexander about the family’s reunification bid.
   The news led to Alexander being pulled off the election campaign to return to Ottawa to address the crisis.
   Stephen Harper, seeking re-election as prime minister, tearfully expressed his feelings while underscoring the need to continue the military fight against the Islamic militants in Syria and Iraq.


   Canada’s economy gained 12,000 jobs last month, but with more people looking for work, the jobless rate rose.
   Statistics Canada said the unemployment rate climbed to 7.0 percent, up 0.2 from July where it had been for six consecutive months.
   Nationally, the number of full-time jobs grew by 54,400 while there was a drop of 42,400 part-time jobs.
   The increase in jobs along with stronger trade numbers suggested the economy is improving after slipping into a “technical recession” in the first half of the year.
   As the economy grew in June, analysts said the recessionary dip was short-lived and that the second half of the year would show growth.


   News in brief:
   - Adult children living at home are depleting their parents’ retirement savings plans and dreams, says a survey by the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. It found such parents were spending up to up to $500 a month to support children who would usually be on their own by then. The survey said two-thirds of 1,054 respondents said their resources are being depleted by children aged 18 or older while 20 percent said it was causing them to delay retirement.
   - There are more layoffs in Canada’s “oilpatch” as two Alberta companies are laying off 900 workers, mostly in Calgary. The cutbacks are at ConocoPhillips Canada, with 500 jobs lost, and 400 workers leaving Penn West Petroleum. The oil price crisis has resulted in 35,000 jobs being lost this year.


   Facts and figures:
   The Canadian dollar is lower at 75.54 cents U.S. while the U.S. dollar returns $1.3237 in Canadian funds, before bank exchange fees.
   The Bank of Canada’s key interest rate is 0.50 percent while the prime-lending rate is 2.7 percent.
   Markets are mixed with the Toronto Stock Exchange index down at 13,433 points and the TSX Venture index up at 554 points.
   The average price of gas is higher at a national average of $1.079 a liter or $4.10 (Canadian) for a U.S. gallon.
   Lotto 6/49: (Sept. 2) 14, 16, 23, 28, 46 and 48; bonus 10. (Aug. 29) 13, 30, 36, 40, 42 and 46; bonus 22. Lotto Max: (Aug. 28) 2, 4, 5, 17, 29, 39 and 41; bonus 48.


   Regional briefs:
   - Mayor John Tory and a group of friends have pledged to sponsor a Syrian refugee family to settle in Toronto. A group known as Lifeline Syria wants to bring 1,000 refugees to the city under a plan to offer financial support for the first year and is seeking matching government support. The Ontario government has pledged $300,000 and wants the federal government to approve the resettlement of 5,000 refugees.
   - While Toronto and central Canada have temperatures in the high 80s this weekend, a pro cycling race is contending with snow in Alberta. There was some snow on the ground for Stage 3 of the Tour of Alberta race from Grande Cache to Jasper. Northwestern Alberta communities had heavy rain mixed with wet snow while Marmot Basin ski resort reported snow on upper peaks.


   Jim Fox can be reached at canadareport@hotmail.com

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